First Comes the Sauce…

The foundation to many great Italian meals is a classic red sauce. Fortunately, my mom was able to get a first-hand lesson in Nana’s sauce-making skills. Lucky for us, my mom takes good notes. Now, I feel like I need a disclaimer here. I think there are a handful of people in my family who have learned to make sauce from Nana. I know I’ve tried at least a few of them, and guess what. They all taste differently.

How is it possible for several people to learn to make sauce from one person and all have an end product that is different? Well, I believe Nana taught the basics. From there, you tailor to your tastes. My dad, for example, loves spice and bold flavors. His tastes are definitely reflected in his sauce. My mom is quite the opposite, and as expected, her tastes are reflected in her version of Nana’s sauce as well. So what is the point? Well, my point is that I am going to give you the basic sauce recipe. This is a foundation. You’ll likely need to experiment a time or two before you can perfect it to your tastes. Trust me on this one.

When I moved into my first apartment, my mom and I made my first pot of sauce, and as expected, it turned out great. I had a piece of home with me even after my mom left. It only lasted so long though. Once that pot of sauce was gone, that was it. I was on my own.

I think it took me at least a year to build up the courage to try making my first pot of sauce on my very own. I called Mom. Then I called Dad. With the recipe in hand, I began. First, swirl the olive oil in the pan. Sautee the garlic, and then add the cans of tomatoes, paste, and puree. Season and cook for days. After all the anticipation, I cooked up some pasta, and served it up to my husband (boyfriend at the time). Ugh, what a disappointment! This definitely was NOT what I had in mind.

Several YEARS later, I gave it another shot. This time was far from perfect too, but since then I’ve tried and tried again. Each time my sauce comes out a little bit different, but the important thing is I’m learning, and that it’s edible, of course. So, I’ll challenge you. Take the first step, and give it a try. If I can do it, so can you!

Nana and me… A LONG time ago.

Nana’s Sunday Sauce Recipe:

1-29oz can of crushed tomatoes in puree

1-29oz can of tomato puree

1-12oz can of tomato paste

2 TBSP Olive oil

Garlic, minced


Salt and pepper

2 tsp sugar

Bay leaf

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and brown the garlic (this is the time to add meat if desired – check back for a future blog post on adding meat). Pour in the can of tomatoes in puree and cook for 15 minutes. Then add the cans of tomato puree and tomato paste. Add two large and two small cans of water (about 10 cups). Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add sugar and bay leaf. Cook all day Saturday and half day Sunday.


2 thoughts on “First Comes the Sauce…

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